Monday, January 11, 2010

In-N-Out: How I Love & Hate Thee!

Hello All,

Tonight, I present you with an "Ode & A Diatribe" to that SoCal institution, "In-N-Out" burger. First, I will begin with the well wishes of my family, who have been loyal fans from the 80's. It seems that this restaurant has been a monthly stop since that time. For us, it began with our family's ministry evenings at the L.A. Mission. We would do an hour long service and the temporal reward was "In-N-Out" on the way home, at the Barranca location off of the 10 freeway. Burgers with onions at 10PM? Not necessarily the formula for dietary or...ahem...digestive success!

Today, my family continues this monthly tradition, as we venture out to fill our faces with burgers and fries. The burgers are always perfectly prepared. The fries, always crunchy. The milkshakes, always thick and challenging for the strongest slurper! Then there are the patrons. It's inevitable that someone will order off of the secret menu. When their order is called, you look up from your burger handful, and smile at your spouse because you are in on this joke. Yes, you have heard of an "Animal" before, but you know that some first timer, usually the guy that just bought the newest shirt, has no clue what that "Animal" is all about!

If you happen to venture to your local "In-N-Out" on weekends, you are bound to find a bus load of kids from some foreign country, Oregon for example, stopping by for our famous food. You can always spot them because a) they are coming off of a bus, and b) they have pieces of paper with the secret menu on it, but they always mispronounce the order: "I'll take an 'Ah-Ni-Meal" please..." It's multi-culturalism at it's best!

But alas In-N-Out, I have this one thing against you! Unlike your corporate cousins Starbucks, you have made the opposite mistake: UNDER-SATURATION! Yes, it's true that Starbucks had to close a ton of stores last year due to the fact that there was one at every turn in the Inland Empire, but that is better than only having one story every 2,000 MILES!!! We need to get a clue on this one In-N-Out!

Your US has led to some disturbing trends that need to be addressed now, if not in the next 5 years. Let me lay them out in order:

• Overcrowding. No matter what time of day you enter into your store, the place is full to beyond capacity. The sign on the door says 75 is the capacity. I have been in there when there were 700 people in the store!! Lela says, "find us a table." The nearest one is about 6 miles away!

• LONG lines. Binoculars are necessary when looking at the menu! Thankfully, I am a veteran and hate change. I have ordered the same thing for 2 decades!

• The number system. Here is the typical scenario and it never fails. Tonight, we were 97. We are FAMISHED you understand! The kids are about to faint. We hear the first number called, "94." Cool, we are on the verge. "95..." YES, I can almost taste that burger goodness now! "96..." We are salivating like Pavlov's dogs! "347..." WHAT!? "622..." "Is that this new math!?" And then almost like nothing happened, "97!" Cruel, and I wish, unusual!

At least the food gets there right!? Yeah, there it is: All hot and perfect...Before we eat, we thank the Lord...quickly...and then we dive in. Another great thing about In-N-Out is that they provide just the right amount of ketchup (or "catsup" if you are from Oregon...), and by right amount, I mean an everlasting amount that provides each Sanchez with their own personal ketchup cache!

Afterward, the goods outweigh the bad, and what ill-will is leftover, the milkshakes take care of "lickety split" (Oregonian for "very fast!).

Now that that is out of the way: A belated happy new year to our friends! The Lord's best to each of you!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


Simone Knepper said...

Finally Another post! Enjoyed your musings about every southern Californian's favorite burger joint.

Jeff and Aimee said...

Pavlov's dogs! *giggle* I agree with most of what you said, though I've never liked their fries. Hey, what's with all of the "Oregon" cracks? Are you trying to rankle some Oregonians? Don't harass them too much; they're probably already cranky over the fact that they don't have ANY In-N-Outs in their home state.

Patty said...

Although I enjoy In-N-Out for its simplicity and economic value I have to say that it is not the same burger of long ago. I remember my first encounter with said burger. It was plump, juicing, and could be seen beyond the lettuce and tomato slice. However, that is no longer the case. It has become leaner (thin) and therefore is not always cooked to perfection. It can be quite dry and crunchy around the edges and it seems that more and more lately I have to lift the tomato to find the meat. Oh, there's one more thing that you forgot to add to your list of things that could be improved's always freezing cold in the dining area. A little less AC would be greatly appreciated. However, with all that being said, it still remains a good value for the dollar and it's always a great time of fellowship. You'll always run into someone you know at In-N-Out. It's the one place that everyone can afford to congregate at on a moment's notice.